You Are My Heroes — A Letter to Writers

You may have taken time away from writing while preparing for the holidays, but now’s the time to jump back in to reach your writing goals. This week’s article from the Writing It Real archives first appeared in 2006. If offers support for taking the place of writing in your life seriously and a writing … Continue reading

The Holiness of the Heart’s Affections

The following article about trusting our need to write was first published in Writing It Real on December 25, 2003.  As this year draws to a close, it seems timely again to remember that as artists, we must overcome  whatever lack of courage  we harbor and meet the world’s sadness as well as its joy with … Continue reading

Authornomics Interview with Sheila Bender

Authornomics is an author interview series created by Andrea Hurst and Associates agency. The August 16, 2012 interview I did for the series was chosen as one of their year’s best. The many good questions the agents there asked gave me the opportunity to discuss writing and the writing life in ways meaningful to me. … Continue reading

Writing Between the Lines: A Personal Essay Writing Idea

I receive news headlines online from the Washington Post. It is unusual for one of their tech headlines to capture my interest, let alone to inspire a creative writing idea. But yesterday, a headline about a tech book review caught my eye because of the book’s title: The Human Face of Big Data: How information … Continue reading

Community “Book-Excerpt” Book Club – Considering the Work of AE Russell

Once a month, we’ll post selections from an author’s work for the Writing It Real community to contemplate, consider and remark upon as writers. I’ll follow each month’s excerpt with questions to spark comments from Writing It Real readers. We’ll all grow as a result of considering the associations, thoughts, understandings and arguments that arise. … Continue reading

A Holiday Letter

After a request from a Writing It Real member to write more on the topic of composing holiday letters, I decided first to write my holiday letter and see what lessons came. I started with the scene of a recent night’s wakefulness and let that scene lead me to associations concerning some of the events … Continue reading

Making a Book from Lists: An Interview with Adam Diament

On a recent teaching trip to Southern, CA, I visited with my college friend Cynthia. Among the many things we talked about was her oldest son’s new self-published book, The Top 10 Jewish… . She handed me a copy and from the first words of the introduction, I knew I wanted to learn more about … Continue reading

In Praise of Inadequate Gifts

Former Writing It Real intern, Tarn Wilson, shares an exquisite, humble essay about the times we confront loss in the lives of those we don’t know well and the times others address our own losses. This essay first appeared in Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Vol. 40, Nos. 3 and 4 (Summer/Autumn 2012): 13-16. Copyright 2012 The President … Continue reading

Lasting Impressions – Excerpt from The Art and Craft of Storytelling

Author Nancy Lamb has published two books on writing fiction with Writer’s Digest Books, The Art and Craft of Storytelling: A Comprehenisve Guide to Classic Writing Techniques, from which we present an excerpt this week, as well as The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children. She is a master at explaining the elements of … Continue reading

Want to Start a Fresh Essay? Write From What is Unsolved

If you have been having difficulty finding topics or ways into the areas that you most want to explore in your writing, try the following exercise I developed from reading Rilke’s Letter to a Young Poet to refresh your approach to writing personal essays. You may want to send your results in as entries to … Continue reading

Expect It In The Casino by Diane C. Drury, Our Third Place Winner

The recent Writing It Real contest provided the opportunity for people to write about the world around them, send in a draft, receive my responses for help in revising, and then re-enter a revision for our final judge, Betsy Howell. In selecting Diane Drury’s poem “Expect It in the Casino,” Betsy wrote: Not all memoir … Continue reading

Taking Notes: Assisted Living — Evolution of Helen Goehring’s Second Place Winning Essay

Our judge Betsy Howell wrote about her selection of Helen Goehring’s essay: “We learn from people when we stop and really see them, when we know something of their lives, past and present, and all that has made them who they are. The author in this essay sees many reasons for hopefulness, even as the hard … Continue reading

Sparking Young (and Older) Writers’ Minds Using Abantu

What is Abantu? Years ago during a summer writing workshop at Centrum Foundation in Port Townsend, WA, poet Robert Hass (who went on to serve as a recent U.S. Poet Laureate) taught students a short couplet form that he had read was an oral tradition among the Bantu people of Africa.  In class, he recited … Continue reading

Let Your Writer Self Be With You

“Issues of productivity,” “sitting still with loneliness and boredom,” “compartments of time.” I mulled these phrases over.  A close writing colleague was suffering from writer’s block and had written them to me in a letter.   As I thought about what I consider the source of writer’s block, I dialed my cousin.  I often make phone … Continue reading

More Than Your English Teacher Ever Told You

When an irate reader wrote the editors of Writer’s Digest Magazine because of “incorrect” grammar I used in a poem, I was concerned.  I had written “my sister and I” after a verb:  “the ones my father gave my sister and I.”  The reader, a retired English teacher, said the magazine had certainly scraped the … Continue reading

Hula Girl

On a cool, partly sunny Port Townsend summer day, I met with a writer’s group whose members have continued to gather and respond to each other’s writing years after meeting each other in a five-week essay writing course. After a lunch of soup, salad and strawberries that we dipped into chocolate (a favorite writing food … Continue reading

In the Presence of Wonder

Today as my co-instructor and I taught a course called “Teaching Poetry to Help Students Meet Literacy Standards,” something remarkable happened, something that often happens with poetry. I’d like to tell you about it because talking about what happened will help those of you who write from your heart affirm the value of what you … Continue reading

Accepting the Personal in the Personal Essay

Accepting the Personal in the Personal Essay In this week’s “Revision Diary,” I am offering an account of how writer Mary Ann Payne and I worked from a journal entry to a finished essay.  Mary Ann told me that often when she tries to write an essay from a journal entry, she is unhappy with … Continue reading

A Special Birthday

Last night I attended a late showing of Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon’s movie Moonlight Mile. An audience of young and old sat absorbed and silent as the drama of two parents and their deceased daughter’s ex-fiancé unfolded. Bearing witness to their emotional defenses and behavior as well as the ineffectual and sometimes cruel expressions … Continue reading

Boating to Breakfast: Evolution of Mary Langer Thompson’s First-Place Winning Poem

In our spring/summer Writing It Real contest, writers and poets sent in writing inspired by the world around them. That’s a broad topic as we might be looking at the world close up and intimately or from afar. In selecting winners in our spring/summer Writing It Real contest, final judge Betsy Howell wrote of Mary … Continue reading